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Planet Aid makes Baltimore site of its first retail store

You've seen the bright yellow clothing collection bins. Now Planet Aid is opening its first store.

You've seen the bright yellow Planet Aid bins in parking lots of gas stations, stores and other businesses, collecting donations of used clothes and shoes.

Now the Elkridge-based non-profit, which runs clothing recycling programs across the U.S. and uses proceeds for projects throughout the developing world, is opening its first-ever retail store. The Planet Aid Thrift Center will open Thursday on Baltimore National Pike in Catonsville Plaza.

Planet Aid describes the new shop as a pilot project that is expected to lead to more stores in the Baltimore area and elsewhere.

The center will be stocked with full bins of donations that will be processed, sorted and sold at thrift prices. The retailer has hired 30 employees and expects to offer tens of thousands of new items each week in the vast 25,000-square-foot space.

The non-profit has been around for 15 years and now has more than 20,000 bins in 22 states, which collect and recycle 100 million pounds of used items every year.

Donations are re-purposed or sold,  with a small portion going to domestic thrift stores and the rest purchased by importers and resold in used clothing shops overseas.

Proceeds go towards Planet Aid's sustainable development projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, such as teacher and vocational training and youth education.

The new Baltimore thrift store will sell men's, women's and kids clothing and shoes, jewelry, accessories, home decor, toys, movies, books and games, with the proceeds going to the group's projects.

Besides selling, the new store also will serve as a yellow bin itself, allowing customers to bring donations to a drop-off point. Or donors can simply stop off in the parking lot and drop items in a Planet Aid bin.

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